The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has confirmed that machete-wielding pirates hijacked a 3,700-tonne palm oil haul worth approximately RM18.5M (US$4.5M) in waters off the Indonesian coast.

The barge Ever Omega and tugboat Ever Prosper were sailing from Bintulu to Penang, Malaysia, when the pirates struck near Singkawan, Indonesia, on 22 November, the Borneo Post wrote on 24 November.

The Ever Omega was found on 23 November with its cargo missing and believed to have been robbed by the pirates.

“The crew members were tied up and the pirates took off with Ever Omega and left the crew members with Ever Prosper, who managed to free themselves later,” the MMEA told Borneo Post.

The Ever Prosper crew then managed to sail the tugboat towards the waters off southern Johor.

MMEA said it received a distress call from the crew of Ever Prosper and sent word to Indonesian authorities using the Western Fleet Quick Response network.